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Perils of intervention

1 23


By Abdul Sattar

A cabal of Western imperialists led by US President Donald Trump is hatching conspiracies to topple the elected government of Venezuela after Caracas refused to bow to the idols of the free market. It seems that the Western capitalist bloc of profiteers has been emboldened by the failure of other global powers to check its unbridled hegemony. This has encouraged Western powers to dislodge governments and dismantle state infrastructures.

 

First they invaded Afghanistan, teaching a lesson to the same disciples they had pampered during the cold war, declaring them the greatest mujahideen forces fighting the Soviet empire. They bombed Afghanistan back into the Stone Age. But even after pumping more than a trillion dollar into the war, they could not succeed in crushing the dragon of militancy that still haunts them. They went into Afghanistan to eliminate the Taliban, but ended up creating a situation that helped ISIS find refuge in the country.

The West then wreaked havoc in Iraq, plunging the country into a civil war. Iraq, which once had the second largest number of graduates in the Arab world after Palestine, earned notoriety for producing head-chopping militants and hate-spewing clerics. More than 2.5 million people were killed as Western aggression reduced the country to ashes, allowing invaders to impose their own rule on the occupied land. The West even deprived the Arab state of its rich cultural and historical heritage by looting artefacts.

Encouraged by the silence of the world, Western powers decided to trample other states as well. They initially tried to exploit the discontent against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad by throwing their weight behind so-called democratic elements and the remnants of Al-Qaeda in the Arab state. With time, they militarily intervened in Syria, killing more than 500,000 people and displacing around 11 million others. More than $200 million were lost owing to the destruction wreaked on infrastructure through Western bombardment. But what did they achieve?

The West’s intervention in Libya was another disaster. Once again, a secular dictator was replaced by fanatical elements who bit the hand that fed them by attacking Western interests. Today, Libya’s infrastructure is in a shambles and there seems to be no rule of law. Militants are roaming through the country, indulging in heinous crimes including human trafficking that haunt the Western countries.

The intervention in Iraq, Syria and Libya was justified on the pretext that they were run by dictatorial regimes. But Venezuela is one of the most democratic country in modern times. A large number of referendums have been held in Venezuela since 1999 on vital questions of national importance. Health, education and other basic amenities improved under Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s former president, despite brutal sanctions and multiple attempts to thwart the democratic dispensation.

The situation in Venezuela is especially alarming because of the siege that has been laid by Western capitalists and their tedious acolytes in the Americas. It is true that crimes have skyrocketed in recent years and hundreds, thousands or possibly millions of people have migrated to other states. But the government cannot be blamed for all this. Western imperialist powers have also contributed to this crisis.

Things were not as disappointing under Chavez as they are today. Chavez, who was elected in 1999, made drastic changes to improve the country’s social sector and ensure benefits to millions of people. For instance, the unemployment rate, which stood 14.4 percent in 1999, dropped to 7.6 percent in 2009.

Despite the increase in population, which rose from 23,867,000 in 1999 to 29,278,000 in 2011, extreme poverty decreased to 8.5 percent in 2011 from 23.4 percent in 1999. There has also been a drop in the infant mortality rate. During the same period, GDP rose from $4,105 in 1999 to $10,801 in 2011. Although crippling sanctions were imposed, revenue from oil exports also increased many folds from a meagre $14.4 billion in 1999 to a whopping $60 billion in 2011.

Venezuela’s only crime is that it looks after its natural resources on its own. Caracas refuses to dole out oil contracts to Western companies and instead utilises oil wealth to fund a social welfare programme that benefits millions of people. This is considered unforgivable by the West. During the cold war, nationalisation was considered a virus and many political pundits advised developing countries to steer clear of it. Those who dared to get infected by this virus were taught a terrible lesson.

This is not the first time that Western countries have tried to dislodge a democratic dispensation. They backed a military coup in 1953 against the elected government of the then Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh for nationalising the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. When Jacobo Arbenz, Guatemala’s former president, enraged Western companies by thwarting their attempts to plunder his country, he was removed in a military putsch backed by the Western democratic world. Chile’s Salvador Allende met a similar fate when he dared to challenge the mighty Western corporations in 1973. These are just a few examples.

While the memory of those in the Western world may be weak, the people who suffered in developing countries clearly remember how British-made scorpion tanks were used to crush pro-democracy activists in Indonesia during the time of General Suharto. They also recall how an aircraft bombed Allende’s presidential palace to force him to surrender, Congo’s Patrice Lumumba was humiliated at the hand of a militia that was bankrolled by Western powers, and how people in the land of the pure were flogged, imprisoned and tortured by a military dictator who was a blue-eyed boy of the Western democratic world.

People in developing countries aren’t ignorant of the fact that the free world offered blanket support to monarchs and dictators. It was the free world that turned a blind eye to the plight of families who lost their loved ones to enforced disappearances in Chile during the time of General Pinochet, and did little to end the atrocities of Arab monarchs and human rights violations committed by African autocrats.

The pretext of restoring democracy will not work in Venezuela. The real interest of the Western world is to seize the country’s oil wealth. Some estimates suggest that Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves. Opposition parties are allegedly prepared to sell off the country’s precious natural resources to Western profiteers who would thrive on them, pushing the people of Venezuela towards extreme poverty and starvation.

It is time for countries like China and Russia to prove their mettle on the global stage. If Western imperialists succeed here, they will spare no time in dislodging the government in Tehran, triggering a wider conflict in the region that will harm Beijing and Moscow, which have high stakes in the region.

China’s dream for the Belt and Road Initiative will remain unfulfilled if the region plunges into turmoil. In addition, Russia’s economic recovery will also become a distant reality if stability is not sought in the region. So, Venezuela is a litmus test of the ability of both powers to put a check on Western unilateralism.

Opposition parties in Venezuela should remember how Western powers exploited the discontent against Assad in Syria to achieve their nefarious designs. These parties may have legitimate grievances that need to be addressed. But any attempt to invite Western intervention in the country is a recipe for disaster. Therefore, political parties in Venezuela must resolve their differences on their own instead of turning to Uncle Sam for help.